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Thursday, November 6, 1997

Eagles look to contain Panthers

Sports Editor
PECOS, Nov. 6 -- The Fort Stockton Panthers will be missing a few
players Friday night, when they play host to the Pecos Eagles. But
not their main one, as they were a year ago.

The Panthers will go for their first playoff berth in 19 years
with a healthy Jacob Vasquez in the lineup, even if they have to
do without quarterback Steven Cordero, lineman Gage Aaron and
linebacker Layton Woody. And his presence will mean a tough task
for the Pecos Eagles, if they're to keep their nine-year winning
streak over the Panthers alive.

The Eagles will be trying for their first district victory, and to
finish at .500 for the first time since 1993. The Panthers are
already assured of their first winning mark since 1987, and can
earn a bi-district berth if they can win while Andrews defeats Big
Spring on the Steers' home field and Sweetwater completes their
undefeated season with a victory at San Angelo.

"(Andrews coach Mike) Lebby told me he was going to go all-out
because he thinks he can go at least to the quarterfinals in the
big school 4A (playoffs), but it would be a lot tougher in the
little school 4A," said Fort Stockton coach Philip Lopez, in
explaining what the Mustangs have to gain with a win Friday over
the Steers. "So I think we're in good shape if we take care of our
own end, because I don't think Lake View can beat Sweetwater."

Last year, Fort Stockton came into Pecos off an emotional loss to
Andrews, where they scored four touchdowns despite the loss of
Vasquez the previous week to a broken collarbone. But the
Panthers' attack was shut down by the Eagles, who rolled up 329
yards in a 17-7 victory.

This time, Vasquez and his 1,589 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns
will be on the field for Fort Stockton, though who'll be handing
the ball off to the senior remains in doubt.

"Jack Poage should get the starting nod, and after him we'd go
with Michel Pules right now," Lopez said. "We'll just have to see
with Steven. right now his hamstring is pretty sore."

Poage took over in the fourth quarter of last week's loss at
Andrews and attempted only one pass, but Lopez said he has
confidence him to throw the ball. "He's done a good job. He played
early on some against Ysleta and Lamesa and does a good job in

"They've got a good back, and whoever the quarterback is, that's
what I'd do, get him (Vasquez) the football," said Belew, who
doesn't expect to see much change in the Panthers' attack.

"Fort Stockton runs a wing-T offense which is very similar to what
us. They run a trap-sweep series, and like to get him the ball on
the pitch and sweep," Belew said.

"Since he's such a good running back, they like to run the
play-action (pass) on you," he added. Tight end James Matchett has
been the main target there, with eight catches for 185 yards, five
of those for touchdowns.

"They also run the flood pass real well on both sides, and
thery've gotten into a little one-back where they try to get you
split out and run the ball," Belew said. Split end Andy Gonzales
has been Cordero's next main target, but he's been more dangerous
as a kick returner, with just three catches and one touchdown in
1997, while two of his 15 kickoff returns have gone for scores.

Unlike last season, when Fort Stockton defense slipped as the
season wore on, the Panthers have played well the past two weeks
in their 33-22 win over Big Spring and their 21-7 loss to Andrews.
However, they will be without Woody, who was suspended by Lopez
after being ejected from both the Big Spring and Andrews games for
unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I feel like we run a pretty well-disciplined program, and I don't
care if you're a freshman or a varsity senior starter. I won't
tolerate that kind of play," the Panthers' coach said, while
adding Woody could come back and paraticpate in the playoffs if
Fort Stockton qualifies.

Although Shaud Williams had one more TD against the Panthers than
he did against Pecos and took the district rushing leadership away
from Vasquez, Lopez was happy with his squad's work last week. "I
think besides Sweetwater we held Shaud to his lowest output of the
season. Other than those two long runs, the rest of the team
didn't do aything."

Defensively, the Eagles had a good game against San Angelo Lake
View, even if the 29-28 final score doesn't show it. Two of San
Angelo's four touchdowns were set up by special team problems, and
the Eagles held the Chiefs to their second-lowest offensive output
of the season, while recovering four fumbles.

However, Belew said he's still uncretain about the status of
defensive end Jose Contreras, who had a pair of sacks last week
before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

"It's real questionable right now. I'm hoping he'll be back,
because he had a great game against Lake View," said Belew, who
added Robert Gonzalez would start in Contreras' spot.

He's also hoping to get Hector Garcia in more on defense this
week, to give corners Jason Abila and Oscar Luna some rest. "We'll
also get some help with Moses Martinez coming back at safety,"
Belew said. The senior has missed the past three weeks with a knee

Offensively, Pecos moved the ball well at times in each of their
last three games, but have come away empty seven of 14 times
inside their opponents' 30-yard line, five of those coming last
week against Lake View.

The Eagles' passing game was held to just 48 yards by the Chiefs,
but should also get some help this week with the return Martinez,
who will allow Luna to get some more rest on offense.

Realignment may mean big changes for 4-4A

Sports Editor
PECOS, Nov. 6 -- Attendance reporting time was last week for high
schools across Texas, and the numbers they submitted will
determine how the University Interscholastic League realigns its
five classes for the 1998-99 school year.

About the only safe bet right now for the Pecos Eagles is they
will be in the same district next fall with Fort Stockton, the
team they close their 1997 football season against Friday night.
After that, it's anyone's guess whether or not the Eagles will be
saying `goodbye' to the basic 4-4A alignment that has been in
place since 1980, or `welcome back' to the lineup the UIL had for
4-4A just two years ago.

As many as five West Texas schools outside the Panhandle could be
moving up from Class 3A to 4A next year, including former district
rival Monahans, which is back over the 700 cutoff mark the UIL had
for 4A schools in 1995. But three of the five schools are out in
El Paso, and that could force the UIL to grab a couple of Permian
Basin schools -- as they did with Monahans the past two years --
and throw them in as part of a second El Paso-area Class 4A

Add to that mix the possible addition of Abilene Wylie to Class
4A and the loss of Lamesa, and the number of options is

Pecos High School principal Danny Rodriguez said the school
reported an enrollment figure of 840 to the UIL last week. That's
up from the 798 enrollment the UIL had PHS listed for a year ago,
and well above whatever increased cutoff number for Class 4A state
officials may come up with.

A higher number might keep Monahans in Class 3A, while the
Abilene Reporter-News said last week that Wylie is well above the
4A line.

Lamesa, meanwhile, fell below 700 and could drop back down to
Class 3A for the first time since the 1989-90 school year. And out
in El Paso, Clint, Mountain View and Fabens are all right at the
4A level, while El Paso Ysleta will likely be going back up to 5A
after a two-year stint in District 3-4A.

The UIL loves to create districts with an even-number of teams --
there are no bye dates during district play that way -- so there's
an outside chance 4-4A could grow to from six to eight schools
next fall with the addition of Monahans and Abilene Wylie, both of
whom are already in the Eagles' district for swimming. But the
Reporter-News also said two schools out of District 5-4A --
Granbury and Weatherford -- could be headed up to Class 5A in

Add to that the fact that the UIL has shown no hesitation in the
past to pair West Texas schools over 300 miles apart together when
necessary (for example, Anthony is currently lumped with Iraan and
Stanton, both 320 miles away), and here are some possible options:

1. No change.

That's not likely if Lamesa's reporting under 700 students,
because that would leave District 2-4A with only five teams. But
if Monahans comes back up that creates a possible...

2. Return to 1994

... where Sweetwater goes back into the Lubbock-area District
2-4A, after spending 1994-96 there, and the Loboes take their
place. That would leave 4-4A the same as it was during that two
year span. Another possibility would be sending both Sweetwater
and Wylie east to take the place of Weatherford and Granbury in
District 5-4A, with the Loboes again taking the Mustangs place.

Travel distances are the exact same from Sweetwater to either
Fort Worth or Pecos, so that's no obstacle, and it would create
the toughest 4A football district in the state, with the Mustangs
joining Stephenville and Brownwood. (Whether or not they'd be
happy with that set-up is unknown, but Wylie, Graham and Mineral
Wells sure wouldn't be.)

3. Go West.

El Paso currently has seven schools in their 4A district. Add the
trio of 3As and take away Yselta and you have a nine-school
District 3-4A. The UIL might leave it like that (and if there are
only six to eight 4A schools they definitely will), but the league
has already been hit with a preemptive strike lawsuit by schools
in two Class 5A districts out of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Those two districts contain 19 teams, almost as many as three 5A
districts in other parts of the state have. They want the courts
to force the UIL to create a third valley district, in order to
increase their schools' chances for regional berths in athletics,
band and academic competitions. Faced with that court fight, the
UIL may not want to push its luck with a nine-team district in El

That leaves open the possibility of keeping the current District
3-4A intact, while moving District 3-3A schools Monahans, Fabens,
Clint and Mountain View up and adding Pecos and Fort Stockton to
create a new District 4-4A.

Replacing Big Spring, Sweetwater, Andrews and San Angelo Lake
View with the El Paso trio would more than likely do wonders for
the Eagles' district record in football. But it would add an extra
200-mile trip per year to every team's travel schedule, along with
band and academic team trips.

The main catch with that plan is there are no `open' 4A
districts, as was the case during the late 1980s and early 1990s
when there weren't enough schools to fill out 32 districts. Any
additional district for El Paso would require the loss of a
district somewhere else in the state, or the return of the `zoned'
districts the UIL used in Class A and 4A during the 1980s.

The `lost' district in that case might be the current 4-4A. While
Pecos, Monahans and Fort Stockton go to the `new' 4-4A, San Angelo
and Sweetwater could move east to join Wylie, Brownwood, Mineral
Wells and Stephenville in District 5-4A, and Big Spring and
Andrews may head north to be with Frenship, Levelland, Plainview,
Snyder and Lubbock Estacado in a seven-school District 2-4A.

All those options remain speculation, but one thing is almost
guaranteed -- whatever the UIL decides, its unlikely they'll
change it on appeal. Monahans found that out two years ago, when
the league refused to move them out of a district where their
closest rival (Alpine) was five times further away than Kermit,
which has to drive through Monahans to get to their District 4-3A
games in Crane, Sonora and Reagan County.

Three Eagles earn honorable mention

PECOS, Nov. 6 -- Three members of the Pecos Eagles' varsity tennis
team received honorable mention in selections for the all-district
4-4A tennis team, coach Bernadette Ornelas said on Wednesday.

The selections were made by district coaches, following the
completion of the fall tennis season. District 4-4A champ Big
Spring placed the most members on the team, after advacing to the
Region I-4A finals where they were beaten by Wichita Falls, while
Andrews, district runner-up and a regional quarterfinal loser to
Dumas, was next.

Pecos' threes representatives were all on the boys' side, and all
juniors. In doubles, second-seeds Tye Graham and Jeff Lam earned
honorable mention, and also were selected in singles play, Graham
as a No. 3 seed and Lam as a No. 4 seed.

The Eagles' other honorable mention pick was Jonathan Fuentes,
who was selected playing at No. 1 seed during the fall season for

Seasons end for sub-varsity gridders

PECOS, Nov. 6 -- One team will try to finish their season
undefeated, while two others will seek to avoid going winless for
1997 today, when Pecos' sub-varsity football teams close out their
year with games against Fort Stockton.

Pecos' eighth grade and junior varsity teams will be at Eagle
Stadium to face the Panthers, with the junior high `A' and `B'
games set for 4 and 5:30 p.m. and the varsity contest at 7 p.m.
The Eagles' seventh and ninth grade teams will go to Fort
Stockton, with the junior highs set to begin at 4 and 5:30 and the
freshmen at 6 p.m.

The ninth grade and JV teams are the ones hunting their first
wins, after the JV lost to San Angelo Lake View and the freshmen
to Alpine's JV a week ago.

It's the first meeting of the season for the high school squads,
while Crockett and Zavala's football teams will be playing the
Cubs for the second time this year.

Zavala's `A' team will be trying to complete an undefeated season
today with a win at Fort Stockton. The seventh graders scored a
30-0 win at home last month, but have had to survive fumbles and
penalties the past two weeks to pull out victories over Monahans
and Alpine.

Zavala's `B' team is also hunting their second win over the Cubs,
after a 12-0 victory earlier this season.

Crockett's `A' team will be looking to reverse last month's loss
at Fort Stockton, when they dropped a 20-0 decision. The `B' team,
meanwhile, joins the seventh graders in seeking their second win
over the Cubs, after a 16-0 victory on Oct. 9.

Cowboys downplaying Switzer firing reports

AP Sports Writer

IRVING, Texas -- What would the running soap opera at Valley
Ranch be without a good `Barry Switzer is going to be fired'

Players and owner Jerry Jones scoffed Wednesday at a report
Switzer was going to be ousted next week.

``We're always under the microscope,'' veteran Bill Bates said.
``We're pretty much used to it.''

``We need a good distraction,'' guard Nate Newton said.
``Distractions get us going. We thrive on them.''

Jones shot down the latest report concerning Switzer, who
according to The Washington Post likely will be replaced by
director of scouting Larry Lacewell next week.

``It shows you how bad sources can be,'' Jones said Wednesday
while the Cowboys, 4-5 and off to their worst start since 1990,
tried to prepare for Sunday's game against Arizona in Texas

``Barry's job is secure. There's no truth to that. It's not going
to happen. We're going to ride through these rough times and we're
going to ride with Barry Switzer,'' Jones said.

The Dallas Morning News reported today that a source said Switzer
was almost fired after a loss to the Washington Redskins three
weeks ago.

The source told the newspaper that Jones considered firing
Switzer after the Washington game and replacing him on an interim
basis with special teams coach Joe Avezzano.

Neither Jones nor Switzer could be reached Wednesday night, the
newspaper reported.

The reports come on the heels of a heated discussion after
Sunday's 17-10 loss to San Francisco between Switzer and
quarterback Troy Aikman, and a New York Times report last week
that the Dallas coach stayed up until 4 a.m. partying before a
game and bragged about it.

Public relations director Rich Dalrymple said of the reports of
Switzer's dismissal:

``That would be taking a difficult situation, turning it upside
down, and then turning it upside down again. It's not something
Jerry is going to do.''

Lacewell, a former assistant under Switzer and also a head coach
at Arkansas State, laughed.

``That's crazy,'' Lacewell said. ``I'm trying to find players,
not coach them. It's ridiculous. I'd be shocked if something like
that happened.''

Brewers move to National League

AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK, Nov. 6 -- The Milwaukee Brewers culminated the 10-month
realignment debate by becoming the first major league baseball
team to switch leagues this century.

The Brewers will move from the AL to the NL next season, a shift
approved Wednesday by baseball's ruling executive council.
Milwaukee, which had been in the AL Central, will play in a
six-team NL Central. It leaves the NL with 16 teams and the AL
with 14.

``I think it's a wonderful thing Depth P15.03 I2.54
for baseball,'' said home-run king Hank Aaron, who started his
career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and ended it with the
Brewers in 1976. ``It's a great day for Milwaukee.''

There was no announcement after the 45-minute conference call
among nine executive council members. Three council members, who
spoke on the condition they not be identified, confirmed the
decision was made. Two said the Brewers' shift would be announced
today, and one said the decision was unanimous.

Owners gave the council permission to make the final decision
when they approved a one-team realignment in a telephone vote Oct.
15. While Kansas City was given first choice to switch, the Royals
preferred to stay in the AL.

Milwaukee, the team owned by acting commissioner Bud Selig, had
said it would move to the NL in the event Kansas City declined.

As part of the realignment, the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays
will join the AL East and the Detroit Tigers will shift to the AL
Central. The NL Central will become baseball's largest division
with six teams.

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